She stars in "Archer," co-hosts "The Talk," and hosts "Whose Line Is It Anyway?," she produces and hosts her own podcast, "Girl on Guy," she travels as a stand-up comic, she guest stars on series like "Modern Family" and "Glee," and she's developing a TV series adaptation of her latest book, the New York Times bestseller "Self-Inflicted Wounds: Heartwarming Tales of Epic Humiliation."
Aisha Tyler — it's no cliché to say — is one of the hardest-working people in showbiz, and she took time out of her packed schedule to talk to Yahoo TV about the new season of "Archer" (which airs its season finale on April 21) and the mystery of who fathered Lana's baby, her gig on "The Talk," her celeb podcast, what's on her binge-watch list, how she feels about being a geek goddess, and how, exactly, she manages to have 743 jobs and do them all so well.
Congratulations on the pickup for "Archer" Seasons 6 and 7. That must be especially satisfying after Season 5 took the show in such a different direction with "Archer: Vice."
Yeah, it is a real affirmation. It was a big turn for us, and for [series creator] Adam [Reed], who had this big radical idea and then was, as we got closer to the season debut, feeling anxious, like artists do, about how it would be received. It's a nice validation of him. But also, it just shows that people love the characters. I think that people love the characters and the relationships, which is really wonderful.
What did you think when you first heard the idea for "Archer: Vice"?
The show is a crazy show, so it can take a lot. I mean, I was more worried about Lana getting pregnant than I was about them becoming coke dealers. Because they weren't very good spies to begin with, and they were breaking the law continuously when ISIS was still an entity. I thought it was great. Creative bravery is really important, especially in today's television climate where there are so many good shows out there. Shows that don't take risks don't stay on the air. For us, and for Adam and [executive producer] Matt [Thompson] and everybody at [production company] Floyd County, but Adam especially because he writes almost every episode, taking a risk and keeping himself excited was going to keep the show creatively fresh. I was just psyched for him, because he was excited about the idea. It put everybody into a new context and gave people new dynamics to work off of.
What were your concerns about the Lana pregnancy?
They were like real world concerns: How could she remain a spy, and how could she remain effective and be pregnant and be a mom? Archer, we think, may or may not be a father to the Wee Baby Seamus, but a baby's not in the picture yet. There's no way Lana's going to have a baby, and the baby was going to disappear. So how was that going to change the dynamic? For her, she's always been a career woman and really driven. Also, the thought of her eventually taking over for Malory, how was this pregnancy going to affect those goals? I mean, in the real world, I'm a really ambitious person, and I love Lana, and I know how ambitious women think. I had some concerns for how it was going to change her dynamic and her strength, her center position on the show.
We don't know yet how everything is going to play out, but are you happy with the outcome of the pregnancy storyline? Were you surprised?
This season is spectacular, top to bottom. People are going to be really pleased with everything that happens between now and the end of Season 5. What's exciting is, Season 6 is going to start pretty explosively based on what we've recorded already.
You've already started working on the next season?
No, but I know how Season 5 ends.
Speaking of Archer and the baby, of course everyone is hoping he's the father. Will we find out if he is or not before the end of the season?
I cannot tell you that. It's a major plot point, obviously. Lana's been buffeting about between two guys for a while now, and they're both still in the picture. They also are both potential competitive fathers for the Wee Baby Seamus. It's funny that two people who are so, just, unalike, could be in competition, as Cyril and Archer are. Lana's secretive and controlling and a little self injurious. It'll be very interesting to find out how this particular injury came about, so to speak.
What do you love most about playing Lana?
That I don't have to put on makeup and wardrobe to play her. It's really a joy to make that show, because it just, it's almost all cerebral, the work. It's just all about making the lines and the moments as funny and as authentic as they can be. There's not a lot of extra stuff. I don't have to worry about whether I have on lipstick or I'm hitting my mark, which is very freeing.
Watch a promo of the next "Archer":
Switching a bit to "The Talk," as a comedian, is it a tough line to walk to provide commentary, but also not always say the first thing that might pop into your head? Because that's not necessarily the tone of the show.
Yeah, the show's not a mean show. I'm not particularly a mean comic. I feel like as a comedian, even though I make fun of the world, I'm more self deprecating than anything, so I'm definitely myself on the show. There's not a governor other than, I can't use the same language that I use in my everyday life on the show for FCC reasons. It's interesting. I've been here for a while and the show has got this incredible forward momentum. If anything, we've just become freer and freer with how we speak. I'm a fair-minded person and people who know me maybe from other things I've done or they know me from my podcast, where they listen to me talk with people for 90 minutes instead of the seven that we get on our show, know that I'm a pretty fair-minded person generally, and that I also tell the truth. I really believe in honesty. But no, I've never held back on "The Talk." My default mode is not mean. Honesty and meanness are not always the same thing if you're telling the truth. And if you're also willing to tell your own truth and make fun of yourself, people are much more open to hearing what you have to say without judging you.
See Tyler on "The Talk":
What was the thing that most attracted you to doing a daily talk show, especially because you have so many other projects?
First I came on as a guest, and then I did a week of guest hosting, and it's just been an incredibly welcoming environment. It just felt like home immediately. The women were all so kind and supportive and made me feel at home right away, and that dynamic… I wouldn't have taken the job, quite honestly, because I do have so much else going on, if that hadn't been a fit. That was the first thing I thought about. Could I come spend every day with these women? And being a comedian, where typically I'm the only woman in a lineup, and even on something like "Talk Soup," where it had been hosted by males previously… I'm very comfortable in a masculine environment. It was exciting to me to be working with women, because I just have never done that before. It just felt startling and different to me, in that I was able to think about things in a different way, and it was a really great counterbalance to all my, again, much more masculine pursuits, like "Archer" and like "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" I have all these other things where I live very squarely in a male context. The women were so nice here and showed me such respect, and I had such respect for them that I thought, "God, this is a place I could spend every day." Then the other thing was I said, "I'm not going to change who I am for the show. I need to be myself, and I need to be myself in all areas of my life." They said, "We want you exactly as you are," which is a really lovely and validating thing to be told.
You also guest-starred on "Modern Family" this season, as Mitch's boss. Any chance of a return visit?
I hope so. I'm not dead, so that's definitely hopeful [laughing]. Typically on a series, like "24" and "Ghost Whisperer," they kill me off. The fact that I'm still alive is reason to hope.
Watch Tyler on "Modern Family":
Between "Archer," "The Talk," "Whose Line Is It Anyway?," guest starring on other series, your podcast, writing books, performing as a comic, and developing a series based on your book, you really are one of the hardest working people in Hollywood. What is your secret to being so creative and productive and still, presumably, sleeping?
I'm really motivated and aggressive in everything I do, even in my leisure time. God, I'll admit freely that I'm a workaholic, that I feel most alive when I'm about to have a panic attack from being overworked. That's my sweet spot, when I feel a little pukey. When I'm like, "Oh God, I'm might not get it done. I might also die." [Laughing.] That's when I'm happiest. I love being busy. I feel like a little bit of terror in your creative life makes you more prolific and more productive. I'm just incredibly disciplined. I get up at four in the morning, and I crack my own whip. Someone asked me the other day, "What's the key to getting things done"? I was like, "The key to getting things done is to do them." [Laughing.] I don't procrastinate. I work seven days a week, I set goals for myself, and then I work on accomplishing them. I do have free time. I really try to find that free time for myself, and I realize at points in my life I have no free time, and I'm trading that for other parts of my life. When I have scripts due or a book due, I just accept the idea that I might go several weeks without having a day off. Then I know when the book is turned in, I can take it easy. A few weekends ago, I was shooting a pilot [Ryan Murphy's HBO drama, "Open"], but then I had Sunday off and it was "Sunday Funday." My husband and I had brunch and played video games all afternoon. It was one of the best days ever.
Tyler and her "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" co-stars on "Arsenio":
You've had an impressive and interesting lineup of guests on "Girl on Guy." Who's still on your podcast wish list?
I've been lucky with my show. I think that the more people know, and the more people understand what kind of a safe haven it is for artists, the more people want to do it, which I'm really proud of. It's an insane amount of work, because I do the whole thing myself. I don't have a production staff. It's really a labor of love for me. And yes, I have several people who are at the top of my list, who I've been chasing forever. One of them is Dave Grohl from "The Foo Fighters." I'm just in love with him. Another is Jason Bateman, who I also am madly in love with. I just fell in love with [director] Steve McQueen. I met him when I hosted the Critic's Choice Awards. I fell in love with him when I saw his movie, and then I was utterly smitten when I met him in person. He is a genius in the truest sense of the word. We throw that word around quite a bit in our culture, but after I saw "Shame," I just thought, this guy's mind is extraordinary.
The great thing about "Girl on Guy" is I try not to do much research about people, so that the conversation is a discovery. Almost every conversation I discover something really surprising about people that I wouldn't have found out if I had gone into the conversation with a plan. I just interviewed Malik Yoba, who is a talented, handsome TV star, movie star, and I found out that he was shot in the neck as a teenager and almost died. I never would have known that. It's not on his Wikipedia page, I'll tell you that. Every interview that's what happens, someone tells me something just incredibly surprising. I hope I can keep making it, I hope I don't get so busy I have to stop, because it's a delight.
You're also a big pop culture fan. TV-wise, what's on your radar lately?
You were asking how I get things done, I allow myself like one hour of television a day. Sometimes I get in two, because I'll do one on the treadmill in the morning when I'm working out. Right now I'm in love with "Game of Thrones," and I'm losing my mind. I've been going very slowly, I've not been watching the whole thing, because I don't want it to be over. I love "House of Cards" and Michael Kelly. Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright are obviously amazing, but I'm in love with Michael Kelly. I have been in love with him since he did "Dawn of the Dead" in 2004. He's an amazing actor. I'm just riveted by Doug Stamper and everything he does.
I'm also watching "Girls" now from the beginning, that's what I do in the morning on the treadmill. I'm in the middle of Season 2. I hate bandwagons. I hate to love things that other people love, so I was really resisting "Girls" for a long time. Now I'm into it, and I hate myself, and I feel very dirty, because it's so good, and so pro feminist and so raw, and [Lena Dunham's] rad. But now I'm just like everybody else who likes it. Join the club, now I'm a joiner. Then the classics, like "The Walking Dead."
How much did you love Buzzfeed's "12 Reasons Aisha Tyler Is Our Spirit Animal"?
I just saw that today. It was adorable and very flattering. People have been really, really sweet. You never think about yourself in that way, or in that comprehensive set of terms, but it was very flattering. I'm just trying to be myself. When you see it all collected together, it's very odd and disconcerting, but it was nice. I've always been this weird kid who liked weird stuff, and it's nice. I just feel like, the reason I made my podcast, and the reason that I wrote that gamer rant, and a lot of the reasons that I do any of the stuff that I do is because I was such a weird kid, and I did feel so alone. I know that there are lots of other weird kids that were like me, that feel alone. I just want them to not feel so weird and alone, because I remember what that felt like.
"Archer" airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on FX; "The Talk" airs Monday-Friday at 2 p.m. on CBS; and "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" airs Fridays at 8 p.m. on The CW.